Heaven has been in the news a lot lately. It’s also been around for an eternity.
Heaven Is For Real, a book about a 3-year old's travels to heaven and back during emergency surgery, has been #1 on the New York Times bestseller list for 21 weeks, unprecedented for a Christian book. Told by his father, but often in Colton Burpo’s own words, the disarmingly simple message is that heaven is a real place, Jesus really loves children, and you get to be with the people you love.
Pete Wilson, Senior Pastor with Cross Point Church in Nashville, TN admits that he has never preached a whole sermon on heaven. Pete interviewed Colton Burpo and his father and shared that reading the book and talking with them, “expanded my imagination of what heaven could be like.” Pete adds, “We can only desire what we imagine,” and “If we can imagine it, we can desire it and then we can see it now.”
N.T. Wright in Surprised by Hope: Rethinking Heaven, the Resurrection, and the Mission of the Church says "Heaven, in the Bible, is not a future destiny but the other, hidden, dimension of our ordinary life—God's dimension, if you like.
Leigh Spruill, Rector of St. George’s Episcopal Church in Nashville, TN puts it this way, “In heaven we retain our unique identity, even as we take on new bodies. This is Good news for two reasons: we will see again those whom we have loved and lost, and we will come to the fullness of all that God intended for us in the beginning. Heaven is the completion of our unique human project. As our eyes are really opened when we put on those new bodies and become truly ourselves, as the fullness of Christ’s resurrection life overtakes us completely at long last, we will at once shudder at what a hollow shell we had been on earth and how breathtakingly wonderful it is to be finally complete. If that or any other picture of heaven does not create within us a deep sense of longing and expectancy, then it is not heaven that has failed us as much as our faithful contemplation and imaginations."
Rev. Spruill continues: "What if we took not so much a linear view or even spatial view of Heaven? Not so much the end of the line or even so much another world totally separate from this world. What if heaven were not a time to come or future event or another world at the end of this one, but a realm that already is, and under which we are living now? Well, forever has come already.
Starting today, I’m going to imagine more, believing and seeing that heaven is all around me in a baby’s smile, a friend’s hug, and a perfect rose.
Blessings, my friend,